Soft-Lite Elements Windows Reviews

replacement windows reviews

Here we’ll take a look at Soft-Lite Elements windows.  We were recently asked to write this review by one of our loyal readers are we’re happy to help.  When looking at Soft-Lite Elements windows you’ll quickly learn that they are billed as the “most energy efficient windows” produced in North America.  While they are awfully energy efficient when paired with the most expensive glass options, that level of efficiency is probably overkill for most folks.

Since they make the efficiency a cornerstone of the pitch for the Soft-Lite Elements let’s start there.  When the Elements window is ordered with the Solar Ultimate Glass the ratings are very low.

They advertise these windows with a U-Factor of 0.16 which is pretty darn good.  The trick is that lower isn’t always better when it comes to efficiency ratings.  For example, a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient of 0.21 is pretty low.  That’s great if you live in a climate that is dominated by high sun, but it’s not so good if you live in a colder area.  In colder regions you want to take advantage of the sun and this option would block out too much.

Perhaps more importantly the visible transmittance rating (VT rating) is pretty low with this option.  A rating of 0.37 means that the window will look dark.  It would be smart to look at a sample window with this glass option before purchasing to make sure you’re comfortable with how it will look.

Of course you probably wouldn’t pick this glass option unless it made sense for your home and in your climate.  The important takeaway here is that the claim of “the most efficient window” isn’t really relevant unless you’re going for bragging rights.  It is much more effective to pick a window and a glass option that is right for your home and your climate.

What about the look of the Solf-Lite Elements windows?

In our opinion when some windows try to be “high end” they end up working  a little too hard.  For example, the exterior of the frame of the window is full of curly designs that can look a little busy.

Some folks like all of these lines and the salesperson will probably tell you all about how this gives it the look of a wood window, but in our mind it’s a little much.  We like windows that look like they were always part of the home rather that one that tries too hard to stand out.

This is certainly a style factor and you might like a different look than we do, but consider that a window that looks fancy when sitting on your kitchen table might look a little too busy when installed in your home.

Another style feature on the inside of the Soft-lite Elements window gives it a very clean look.  The Elements window does not have the traditional tilt latches.  The tilt latches are incorporated into the locks which keeps the interior of the window looking clean and uncluttered.

In the past we have seen folks who struggled with how to tilt in their windows when they have this hardware.  It’s not exactly intuitive, but it works well enough.

The salesperson talked a lot about air infiltration.  Is it that special?

Air infiltration ratings are a big part of the pitch for the higher end Soft-Lite windows.  Their ratings are good, but they’re not unmatched.  For example, the published rating for a Soft-Lite Elements window is 0.01.  While there are several reasons this rating is a little deceptive (reasons described in our post on air infiltration ratings), there are other windows out there that achieve the same or very similar ratings.  We know every manufacturer wants to do their best to accentuate their strengths, but in our mind Soft-Lite goes a little too far with this pitch.

How about the warranty for Soft-Lite Elements Windows?

As is the case with all quality replacement windows they come with a “lifetime warranty”.  As always you need to really read the warranty to see what is actually covered.  In this case there are several important limitations:

  • Soft-Lite does not cover labor to fix a warranty problem
  • Soft-Lite does not cover shipping of replacement parts
  • Soft-Lite offers 2 versions of their window warranty, one with glass breakage coverage and one without.  Make sure you know which one you’d be getting.

These limitations aren’t necessarily deal breakers they are more limited than what you’ll find from several other manufacturers.

What’s the bottom line?

To sum things up, the Soft-Lite Elements windows are a nice option.  They can be configured to have great ratings, but the marketing claims tend to push the envelope a little too far.  Realistically they’re pretty darn similar to the ratings offered by many other windows.   It’s important to remember that unless you’re planning on living in the home another 50 years you may not realize any savings with a 0.01 difference in any particular rating.

If you’re looking for a “high end” option, you like the local dealer and you’re comfortable with the pricing, this is a fine option.  Just don’t let anyone make you think you have to spend $800 per window to get good quality.  You have several other options to achieve similar ratings so be sure to shop around if your not comfortable.  At $400-$500 for a typical double hung window this is a fine option.  Much more than that and you’ll be better served to keep looking.

Due to the way Soft-Lite windows are typically marketed you may be able to find a better value in the Soft-Lite Imperial LS window which is very similar.  There isn’t much reason to pay any more for one than the other.

 

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23 thoughts on “Soft-Lite Elements Windows Reviews”

  1. Hi, I just stumbled upon your website and it’s been very helpful. I’m having trouble making a decision and I hope you can offer some guidance. We’re replacing a large three-lite slider in our bedroom and trying to decide between the Soft-Lite Elements Triple Pane vs the Soft-Lite Elements Dual Pane w/laminated glass. The room is one of the coldest in our house so thermal insulation is important but so is sound intrusion as the room is only a few feet away from a neighbor’s patio.

    Thanks & great job on your website!

    1. The laminated glass will definitely be better for sound. You can get double pane laminated glass with some upgrades to make it more efficient, but it will never be as energy efficient as a decent triple pane option.

      It’s really a decision only you can make. Consider that any nice new window will be a lot better than the old window you have now. The difference between double pane and triple pane is small when you compare it with the difference between old window and new window….if that makes any sense.

  2. Is the 400-500 installed price or window price?

    I got a few quotes for replacing 5 double hung windows in a 90 year old house with lead paint. An Elements dealer said 3400. An Imperial LS dealer quoted 4200. Pella and Champion were around 3800-4100. While Pella’s low end window was around 3000. Meanwhile a contractor said 1600-1700 for Viewpoint 3000s. (Which I can’t seem to find any info on).

    Are there any other suggested brands if you think the Elements cost is over charged? Thanks.

  3. Elements or Okna 800?

    We received two comparable quotes between two local companies for Soft-Lite Elements vs Okna 800. We have a large number of windows (sliding windows, picture windows, and sliders). There are (3) quotes (one per group) from each vendor since we divided up the qty and replacement type into different groups. The Soft-Lite pricing is generally $800 – $1200 higher per grouping.

    There is a considerable price difference in the grouping of large picture windows. Soft-Lite pricing is ~$7000 more. The vendor said those windows require impact resistant glass or triple tempered vs the tempered glass in the Okna. They said that is required by the manufacturer for the warranty.

    (3) picture windows: 48”w x 80”h
    (2) sliding doors: 96”w x 80”h.
    (6) picture windows: 48”w x 96”h
    *All picture windows start at floor

    Can someone explain?

    Otherwise, which window is the better choice? Or, is there another recommended vendor that we should look at based on quality, etc.

    1. Triple tempered? Smells like a trickster to me. Could it be triple pane glass with all three panes made of tempered glass? I suppose it’s possible, but not likely. I’d skip that one because he’s lying to you.

  4. I am replacing 22 windows, 2 picture and the rest double hung and I live in the Atlanta area. I found two companies that will both do an excellent job with the installation but my problem lies in choosing the product. One company has Soft Lite Elements (solar E option) quote is around 12k. The other company has a Vytex window that is made for their company. Based on specs, it appears to be a hybrid between the Fortis and Potomac (has triple silver low e glass) this quote is around 9500. From what I am seeing the energy ratings on the two brands are almost exactly the same and they seem to have all the same bells and whistles. Are the Soft Lites worth the price difference?

  5. Hi windowdog – great website, thanks for the information! Okay, I have a 2 quotes for 6 pretty big windows. I like the look of the simulated divided lights, not just the inside the pane kind – so this includes that feature. Soft-lite elements triple pane (triple was included as free upgrade they said?) – 7,600. Polaris Ultraweld double pane, $4,000. Installed. Soft lite has labor warranty of 5 years. Polaris has labor warranty of 2. Other than the Elements being prettier, is the Elements worth almost double?

  6. Elements warranty issues in your post.

    1. Labor cost for warranty items is covered by the company that sold you the window! Our company has a lifetime no service charge warranty.
    2. There is no shipping charge, the parts are shipped to the company that sold you the window ( if said company is charging labor and shipping that’s a bad company not a soft lite issue)
    3. The elements window does have glass breakage warranty .

    Thank you
    Window salesman

    1. Thanks John. I was basing that info on the Soft-Lite warranty copy I had from their website. Depending on the company that sold you the window is part of the issue I was trying to bring up. You can see many comments from folks (check out this page for example) that thought they were buying quality products with a great warranty only to find out the company had gone out of business and they had no warranty.

      It’s fine for a company like yours to offer an additional warranty (my company does that too), but it’s not the warranty from Soft-lite and it’s hard to include those when we write about products because they’re different from every dealer all over the country. Hope that makes sense. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  7. Please update the warranty information on this page. Soft-Lite elements windows have glass breakage coverage that come standard and shipping is covered also.

    It’s unfair to reputable Soft-Lite dealers when their customers come here only to get the wrong warranty information.

    1. Hi Jack, I always want to have the most accurate info possible on the site. I got that info from the printed Soft-Lite warranty. Has the warranty changed or can you point me to the new info? I’d like to verify the information before updating the site.

        1. Hi Jack, thanks for sending that over. It looks like Soft-Lite now offers 2 warranties, one with glass breakage and one without.

          Regarding shipping, check out the paragraph towards the end of the link you sent titled, “What Soft-Lite Will Do”. It clearly states that the customer is responsible for shipping charges. I don’t think that’s a particularly big deal, but it looks like what I wrote on that was correct.

          I did update the page to say that they now offer an option glass breakage warranty as that’s what it appears to say on their website.

          Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns. Always happy to have more industry folks on the site.

  8. While I generally am pleased with my 2 new windows, I don’t like the exterior look. That 3″-4″ white trim is just too much. They stick out like sore thumbs! Can I paint the trim with same color as my siding (which matches other trim, gutters on house)?

    1. Dorothy, are you referring to the white of the window itself, or the trim surrounding it? Either of those could’ve been a different color when ordered with Softlite or most any manufacturer. At this point however, you would not want to paint the window itself. Vinyl windows require a very specific type of paint and prep which is best left to professionals, or even better, left to the factory. Even if done properly, warranty issues can be created by painting the vinyl.

      Back to the trim around the window, even if it has been aluminum wrapped, that can be painted however you want, whenever you want without worry. The factory finish is more durable, but painting over it is not an issue.

  9. Hi, just got a quote from soft Lite dealer in Florida for the “Barcelona” a ‘special model made just for them’ my guess is this is just like mattress sales, same mattress is sold under different model number /name in different stores to prevent comparison shopping, any idea which window this is?

    1. You’re right about the mattress comparison. I don’t know which model it is. If you have a brochure or picture that shows the structure we could probably figure it out. The other way to figure it out is to ask for the NFRC CPD#. With that we could look it up.

      1. Alas it is a real SoftLite model that they intriduced for sale with Florida in mind just last June. 22 windows for about $19k, but it is Florida and hurricane….and seems to be in line with other quotes of other brands, but as you mentioned the softlight dealers all use STUPID sales tactics (yearlong price to today’s price – that 19 started as $39k

        1. They probably don’t all use those tactics, but you’re right that many of them do. Thanks for the info on that model.

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